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Sir Martin Rees, Monday, 9-2-13 September 3, 2013

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Sir Martin Rees, Monday, 9-2-13


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Guest:  Sir Martin Rees.  Topics: Interstellar travel, the future of space &science, quasars, life extension, Mars missions & more.  Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com.  Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See www.onegiantleapfoundation.org/amazon.htm.

We welcomed back Sir Martin Rees to discuss his chapter in the new book Starship Century: Toward the Grandest Horizon, edited by James & Gregory Benford.  Sir Martin’s chapter, titled “To the Ends of the Universe,” looks forward through time and centuries to address human spaceflight, eventual interstellar travel, life extension & more.  In looking forward, he levies criticism on the past. We talked about several of his comments regarding our past & current space program. Dr. Rees mentioned the need for life extension though for Mars he said we could do that without life extension but we should not fool ourselves as it will prove far less comfortable than Mt. Everest or the South Pole.  We talked about finding planets & the possibilities for life, then we switched to the discovery of quasars soon to celebrate its 50th anniversary. Listeners asked our guest about his comments that the political impetus for current & future space work seems to have been lost, especially in contrast to the Apollo era.  In his response, our guest suggested we need low cost and reusable launch vehicles given how costly everything is today.  He commented that mining asteroids did not make sense other than for ISRU purposes. Before going to break, he was asked about the UK government investment in Skylon which he supported.

In the second segment, we spoke about changes in the UK space activity over the past decade.  Sir Martin made comparisons with the UK, ESA & NASA, especially regarding long term planning & our very short one year budgets.  He suggested our budget process makes us unreliable partners in many respects.  Quasars were again a discussion topic, plus Sir Martin fielded a question from a high school student wanting to know how we know the laws of physics are the same throughout the universe.  Another listener wanted to know about science fiction as a leading indicator for science.  Dr. Rees suggested some excellent books for those interested in reading specific science fiction works. James Benford, editor Starship Century called to point out the excellent reading list in the back of the book, plus he offered us important comments about the book & authors. Near the end, Sir Martin was asked to look forward 10-15 years & tell us his thoughts.  His response focused on finding even more planets around the stars, identifying more threatening NEOs, & even more attention given to life extension issues.  The last two questions asked our guest dealt with the ISS living beyond 2020 asking if that was valuable and also the recent podcast by Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson that SpaceX would not be able to go to Mars.  Throughout the discussion, he mentioned the private sector doing things government could not, especially due to less risk averseness.

Please post your comments/questions for Sir Martin Rees on The Space Show blog.  You can reach him through me or his Cambridge website, www.ast.cam.ac.uk/~mjr.


Tim Pickens, Thursday, 8-2-12 August 2, 2012

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Tim Pickens, Thursday, 8-2-12


Guest:  Tim Pickens.  Topics:  Pickens Innovations, commercial space, space economics & policy.  You are invited to comment, ask questions, and discuss the Space Show program/guest(s) on the Space Show blog, https://thespaceshow.wordpress.com. Comments, questions, and any discussion must be relevant and applicable to Space Show programming. Transcripts of Space Show programs are not permitted without prior written consent from The Space Show (even if for personal use) & are a violation of the Space Show copyright.  We welcomed Tim Pickens back to the program to tell us about his new company Pickens Innovations.  As Tim explained, he has left Dynetics and formed his own consulting business.  Learn more about his new consultancy and activities by visiting www.timpickens.com.  We started our discussion by my asking Tim about some of the comments I made yesterday in a USA Today telephone interview regarding commercial/private space development.  Since I forgot to record the interview (something I have learned to do for my own protection given edit rights are seldom permitted re the articles or programs), I bounced some of my comments off Tim to see if I was drinking my own Kool Aid about the state of the private space industry, its potential, the positive changes I see happening, and more.  Tim confirmed that I was on the right track so now I await the USA Today article.  In the process of this discussion, Tim had much to say about the emerging commercial space industry, the companies involved, the economics and the markets.  We talked about how things have changed for the better over time and in recent years.  I then asked Tim about Rocket City Space Pioneers, his Google Lunar X Prize entry, for which he remains the team leader.  Tim was quite frank in discussing the program with us, the Google Lunar X Prize in general & many of the critical issues facing the contest & all the contestants.  Do listen carefully to what he said as it goes right to the heart of issues facing the broader commercial & private space development efforts/industry.  Part of our discussion focused on the value chain available for sustainable lunar business, the problems with ride sharing at this time to the Moon and much more. We also talked about essential time lines for the contest.  He said many times that affordable systems were needed, viable and sustainable business models were needed, and he was thinking about a merger or joint venture with other contestants to make it happen.  Tim fielded many questions about his new consultancy, Pickens Innovations. We learned that he was getting involved in other areas than space, specifically medical devices.  He described two such devices and why his company was pursuing their development.  How about market size and potential as compared to space?  In fact, cash flow & revenue from these successful non-space businesses are expected to fund many of his space development activities.  Also in this segment, our guest talked about space hardware issues.

In the second segment, he defined the Man Cave which he talks about on his website.  Tim responded to a listener question about the potential of a Netscape Moment re investing in space businesses, plus he talked about the need to have more fun and be less nerdy, referencing conference presentations and similar things space people engage in from time to time.  As an example, he cited the Big Bang Theory TV show and a new show about to start, Top Engineer.  Later, we talked about SLS and its future, its mission, and its likelihood of being funded to completion.  Suborbital space and vehicle issues were a discussion topic followed by Tim talking about the Space & Missile Defense Conference in Huntsville (www.udreg.com/SMD) later this month. His closing comments were positive & upbeat for our future, especially by using disruptive technologies which he talked about at great length throughout the interview.

Please post your comments/questions on The Space Show blog.